Pep Guardiola's damning Liverpool jibe throws shade onto Chelsea's Club World Cup arrogance

 

"Not bad, not bad". Was Tuchel's calm response when being asked how being a world champion sounded in Friday's pre-match press conference. The Chelsea coach had his arms folded and allowed a short burst of laughter but it did not take long for his mind to switch back to the reality of a 16-point gap to Manchester City.

"We should not get confused in terms of winning the Premier League. We have to realise we are in the race for the top four right now, which is a huge thing in the Premier League in general.

"We will not start judging competitions. The most important thing is tomorrow against Crystal Palace. After that we switch because are in a lot of competitions."


Chelsea experienced becoming world champions for the very first time last weekend but the experience of sitting far behind Pep Guardiola's men is very familiar. A gap that since the 2017/18 season, when Guardiola lifted his first title with the Citizens, has reached near 30 points since, actually hitting that total when 2019/20 champions Liverpool lifted the trophy.

The 19-point gap at the end of last season was a small step in the right direction, however, the fear of a repeat this term would be psychologically damaging given the expectation of a title race last summer.

Although Guardiola was quick to label Chelsea as the best team in the world before the Blues won the FIFA competition, a more recent quote when pressed on who seriously threatens Man City's current lead was more revealing.

"Liverpool. They are our biggest rivals in the last few seasons, they are always there. "They are a pain in the a** all the time. They are a fantastic team."

Chelsea fans cannot get too disheartened by these comments. The current Premier League table tells you as much. Jurgen Klopp's Reds now have a seven-point gap over Chelsea after winning their last four league games.

City and Liverpool have been the two outstanding teams, breaking new points records and showing levels of consistency that has broken new ground within the Premier League. The reason Pep cites Liverpool is due to their recent experience of going deep in title races, proving capable of attaining over 80 points, something Chelsea have not done since our last title win in 2017.

The Club World Cup victory was truly historic for Chelsea. It was the last piece of major silverware to acquire and rounded off the incredible Champions League win over City last May, when adding the UEFA Super Cup attained at the beginning of this season.

As Tuchel rightly stressed in his comments before Chelsea's return to league action against Crystal Palace, the reality his team face is the battle to maintain a top-four spot, something that they have become all too familiar with.

The first step for Chelsea is creating a gap to the likes of Manchester United, West Ham, Arsenal and Spurs, all of whom have shown their own frailties whilst Chelsea were in Abu Dhabi. Once Champions League qualification can be deemed safe, it is about ensuring the gap to Guardiola can be closed heading into next season.

Chelsea have not done enough in the Premier League to show they can be a threat over 38 games to Man City. Rather than being bitter by Guardiola's comments, it should motivate the whole club to prove him wrong in the future under Tuchel.

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